3 Pillars of Health - Trayopastambha
An optimal state of Health, or 'Svastha', according to Ayurveda, can only be achieved when there is a proper balance of the “Three Pillars of Life.”
These pillars are so revered in the tradition that the Charaka Samhita, the most renowned of all classical Ayurvedic texts, states that “one who manages these three pillars properly is guaranteed a full life span that will not be cut short by disease.”
Every Ayurveda treatment protocol brings attention to restoring balance within these three areas.
The 'Trayopastambha' or Three Pillars of Health are:
These are an essential and integral part of our lives, and when they find harmony, the body, mind and heart follow in living to their full potentiality.
Proper diet, digestion and elimination is paramount to our well-being. Through proper digestion, our bodies are able to absorb from the food all the nutrients and the vital life-force energy (Prana) that acts as the building blocks of our bodies and minds. Proper digestion, according to Ayurveda, has various levels. The ultimate gift of proper digestion is Ojas, our subtle vital energy that protects the body and mind from disease and gives us great vigor and longevity. Proper digestion requires the intake of the ideal foods for a person’s constitution. It also requires that food be consumed properly, with mindfulness, at proper timings and in proper combination. When the choice of food is not appropriate for the constitution of the person or the food is taken improperly, the result is a disturbance of one or more of the body’s three doshas (Vata, Pitta or Kapha). Improper digestion eventually results in disease. Easeful, balanced digestion for all doshic types should bring lightness, joy and peace of body and mind.
Proper rest is essential for the well-being of any person. The body utilizes sleep as an opportunity to use its energy for healing and repairing damage to the body that accumulated during the waking hours. If the body does not receive enough sleep, the body cannot repair the damage caused by stress and strain. This leads to the body breaking down. Too much or too little sleep brings on consequences. Too little sleep upsets Vata dosha, while too much disturbs Kapha dosha. Disturbance of Vata dosha results in weaker tissues that are more susceptible to injury. Disturbance of Kapha dosha results in tissues that become excessive, stagnant, lethargic and immobile. In general, it is best to align our sleeping patterns with the cycles of day and night, and retire by 10 pm and rise with the sun.
Sexuality and its indulgence can become an area of imbalance when engaged in excessively and/or 'inappropriately'. Like every activity in our lives, the way we engage in an action is as impactful as the action itself (think about mindful eating). Ayurveda promotes bringing a quality of Sattva (purity) into everything we do to allow for balance, ease and lightness at every level of our being - body, mind and consciousness. Excessive or solely pleasure-seeking, lustful sexual activity can be depleting to vital reserves and is contraindicated for those suffering from disease. Sexual energy, called Shukra, is needed to build Ojas, the energy that provides stability to the body and mind and underlies the strength of the immune system. When Shukra is depleted, Ojas is depleted as well. If Ojas is not sufficient, the body and mind are more susceptible to disease and disharmony.